It is interesting to learn that Queen Victoria, despite her long reign from 1837 to 1901 and having celebrated the golden and diamond jubilees -50th and 60th anniversaries of accession- did not visit India, the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. Her son, The Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, paid a visit to India during 1875-76 as a mark of honor to the native princes who had aided the English in their efforts to govern the land. This visit was followed by Queen Victoria's assumption of the title of the Empress of India.
Though he had visited Madras and some adjoining areas during his visit, he could not visit Travancore probably because there was widespread cholera in the country during that time. Otherwise, an Anamalai excursion in Travancore had been thought of as a hunting expedition for the prince.
Incidentally, Edward’s son George V was the only King-Emperor who visited India which took place in 1911. He too had not come down south to visit Travancore. None of his successors too had paid a visit to this part of the empire, even though it was well known that Travancore was one of the best governed states of the empire over the years.
The Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, with a big retinue of officers and men sailing from London on the 11th of October, 1875 arrived in Bombay by the royal ship, HMS Serapis on the 8th of November.
Sir Madhava Row, Dewan of Baroda who was a former Dewan of Travancore (1859-72) was there at Baroda with the Gaekwar of Baroda to receive the Prince and later to see him off to Bombay. Returning to Bombay, it was decided that after visiting Goa, the Serapis shall call at Beypore and will go on to Colombo in Ceylon.
Accordingly, on the 26th of November, the Prince sailed on the western coast and reached Beypore on the 29th before sailing to Ceylon.
Beypore is one of the oldest ports in Kerala situated in the district of Calicut. It has been a ship-building centre and was in the Madras Presidency under the British rule.
The Prince of Wales
(From Our Special Correspondent.) BEYPORE, Nov. 29, 2 pm. The Prince arrived here at 10 am. All well. After a consultation with the local authorities who came on board the Serapis, it was decided to go on to Colombo at 5 tonight, so as to arrive there on Wednesday. The cholera is all over the country, not raging very severely, but sufficiently widespread to induce caution. The Prince of Wales was obliged to decline the Rajah's invitation to visit Travancore. Great disappointment is felt at the abandonment of the Annamullay excursion. The visit to Madras will depend on the news received at Colombo. The Prince entertained the Madras officials at lunch on board the Serapis. There is immense disappointment expressed on all sides at the abandonment of the Prince's visit. For nine years there has been no cholera reported in this district. The preparations were extensive and most costly all over the Presidency, and the ladies especially are disconsolate. After lunch the Prince went up the river in a launch. The scenery was very pretty, but he was advised not to land. Many boats were about the river, and the quaint costumes of the people presented a curious spectacle. The Serapis will not touch at Trevandrurm.
Life on the board of HMS Serapis 1. Tennis 2. Entertainments
It is interesting to note that the Prince seemed to have gone up in the Beypore river though he did not land on the shores of Kerala. Also, it was disappointing to the Maharajah, Ayilyam Tirunal Bala Rama Varma that the Prince could not accept his invitation to visit Travancore. Later, the maharajah (He was the first ruler of Travancore to be conferred with the title Maharajah in 1866, by the British government in recognition of his excellent administration of the state) went to Madras to pay respects to the Prince who reached there after the voyage to Colombo.
On the 13th December, the train with the royal entourage stopped at Royapuram, outside Madras, and was welcomed on the platform by the Duke of Buckingham, dignitaries of the Presidency, the Rajas of Cochin, Travancore, Arcot, Vizianagram, and others.
From Madras, he went to Calcutta, Benares, Lucknow and the imperial Delhi. Then the visit extended to Lahore, Jammoo, Agra, Jeypore, Allahabad and Indore before the prince returned to Bombay.
Finally on the 13th of March, after a much hectic tour, the Prince bid farewell to India in the royal ship Serapis.
Palakkad,South India, 5th October 2008.